MD: Survivors’ Group urges Cardinal O’Malley to do more than pontificate

MD: Survivors’ Group urges Cardinal O’Malley to do more than pontificate

For immediate release, July 25, 2018

Statement by Tim Lennon, Volunteer President of the Board of Directors of SNAP, the Survivors Network (415-312-5820,

On Tuesday Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, warned that the Catholic Church could lose its “already weakened moral authority” if it doesn’t make changes.  The Boston cardinal made those remarks in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse of both children and adults by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Cardinal O’Malley’s recognition of the serious problem and proposals for solutions are a good step forward, but to truly turn the crisis around will require more than proposals. Definitive action is necessary to deal with predatory clergy and those who enable them.

The US Conference of Bishops’ national audit says that there are over six thousand clergy who have pleaded guilty, admitted guilt, or been creditably accused of molesting minors. The watchdog group that monitors the scandal, BishopAccountability, only has a list of four thousand. That means that the Church knows of an additional two thousand men that are a danger to children, and that it has kept hidden from public view.

Moreover, in the era of #MeToo, it must be noted that neither list accounts for the Catholic clergy who sexually abuse adults, both men and women. When a priest is a trusted spiritual advisor, there can be no true consent even from a grown person, and there is a grave risk of serious harm to the victim.

What the Church needs to do is to open its books and publicly name those who prey on children and adults. Those men who have shown that they are unable to keep appropriate boundaries should be permanently removed from ministry.

True change would also see the Church do more to support survivors. Funding for therapy and other needed services would be freely given to victims, and not to lobbyists advocating to keep the court house doors closed to survivors. Hard ball legal tactics would be abandoned.

It is important to remember that the Catholic Church finds itself at this crossroads as a result of brave survivors speaking up, courageous reporters writing the truth, and intrepid governmental entities exposing criminal behavior. If not for the efforts of civil society, the Church officials would have continued to cover up for abusers and transfer them to unsuspecting communities. The abuse crisis is not a spontaneous cleansing of the Church by good and moral Catholic officials.

Survivors have been knocking on the door of the church for more than 30 years demanding support for survivors and the removal of predators and those who protect them. It is about time a 'prince of the church' gets the message.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is )

Contact  -  Tim Lennon (415-312-5820,; Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175,, Becky Ianni (703-801-6044,

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  • Caroline Ritter
    commented 2018-07-26 09:20:17 -0500

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